SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST
Survival of the fittest is a central tenet of the theory of evolution. It is based on the verifiable observation that every living being is trying to survive; that some do survive, at least until the time they are able to replicate and leave their progeny behind to carry on; and some do not. Those life forms that are not able to survive until replication eventually disappear and are replaced by other forms that are better adapted and more able to survive.
Well, no one could have any problem with this. As I said, all this is verifiable. In fact, the more we study and the more that is revealed through our increasingly sophisticated equipment, the more we see that not only each life form, but within each life form there are thousands and millions and billions, and in the case of advanced life forms, trillions and quadrillions, of coordinated and synchronized simultaneous biological processes whose sole purpose is the survival of the life form that they serve.
Here, however, is the sixty-four dollar question that is never posed and never examined and that sits right at the center of this whole idea. When we say that all life forms are trying to survive, WHO is it that is actually trying? Now in the case of every living being there seems to be at least two 'who's'. The first who is the who that provided us, and by us I mean all of us, from the microbe all the way up to the human being, with this amazing equipment that allows us not only to survive but to satisfy our desires. Perhaps you think that there is no such who, that this bafflingly complex and astoundingly precise equipment that operates in a way that we humans are just beginning to understand(and that just barely) just arrived here by some sort of a fortuitous accident. Okay, I won't push that point for now. Let's just focus on the present time and on determining who or what it is that is trying to survive.
Let's consider for a moment that non-living things are not trying to survive. Atoms combine making molecules and molecules separate into atoms without any concern what so ever about their survival. Whether an H2O molecule winds up in a liquid state as water, a solid state as ice, or a gaseous state as water vapor, may be of concern to the commuters who have to negotiate through these molecules as they try to get to work, but it is certainly of no concern, what so ever, to the water molecules themselves.
Richard Dawkins an evolutionist who is more myopic than he is intelligent, calls life forms 'survival machines'. What are machines? They are materials assembled and designed to gather a force and use it for a purpose. In human made machines the purpose is, of course, not in the molecules of the machine, but in the conscious creator of the machine who wanted to build something to accomplish a certain goal. It is also in the conscious user of the machine who has the purpose of wanting to accomplish something that the machine will help her accomplish. But the machine itself has no purpose within it, within the molecules of the machine. The creator and the user of the machine may have an interest in its survival and maintain and repair it, but the machine itself has no concern as to whether it is functional or non-functional, in mint condition or rusted out.
Now what about these living 'survival machines' that Dawkins talks about? Is it the machine, itself, our bodies, that want us to survive (and by our bodies I include the proteins in our brains and the nucleic acids of our genes)? Absolutely not. Our bodies are made up of the same atoms and molecules as non-living matter. Although protein molecules are very complex, they are still made of combinations of simple elements; to be specific: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur and phosphorus. Even the genes, those sub-microscopic specks of nucleotides that are deified by Dawkins and modern biology, are merely a type of nucleic acid, with a somewhat different grouping of elemental atoms. Although these molecules are organized in living beings into incredibly complex systems and in living beings they conduct myriad sophisticated and precise processes, they are merely the passive conductors of these processes. Take away the living being and the body becomes just that, a body, with no biological processes, no desires, and certainly, no interest in survival. So it is certainly not the body that wants to survive. In fact, when our survival attempts fail and we die, it is not our body that disappears. If we had enough ice or any other way to preserve it, our body could last for centuries after death.
So who is it that is trying to survive? It's an interesting question, isn't it? This idea of survival of the fittest has been used to try to eliminate God or spiritual beings, or intelligence, from the whole equation of creation. Yet right in the center of this central tenet of evolution, in the center of the center, is this huge gaping hole that cannot be filled with matter. You see, when evolutionists glibly say that the oak tree, the amoeba, the platypus and the human being are trying to survive, they cannot possibly mean, if they thought about it (and usually they are too busy trying to advance their careers to stop and think about it) that it is the physical bodies of each of these creatures that is trying to survive. Although proteins are manufactured only by living beings, and are much more complicated structurally than any other molecules found in the inanimate world, they are still composed simply of elements and there is nothing in any element, or any molecule, that wants to survive, that cares what form it is in or what form it changes into, or that has any desires what so ever. And certainly that is also true of the salinated water, fats acids and trace elements that make up the remainder of the non- protein parts of our bodies.
The point is that if something is trying to survive there must be an IT, a something, that is trying to do that; and if that something is not your body then what is it? Well, then, it must be your brain that wants to survive. But the brain is, like any other organ of your body, a collection of proteins. It has no more will, no more desire, no more interest in anything than any other part of your body. Yes, the neurons of the brain (proteins) conduct countless electrical and chemical impulses that fire whenever we think, see, hear or remember, but that doesn't mean that the brain is thinking, seeing, hearing or remembering. Is that how you think, see, hear and remember, in electrical impulses? That does not sound like a recipe for a very exciting life. Those electrical and chemical patterns are codes that you translate into thoughts and sounds and sights, into the whole rich, beautiful and ugly, delicious and repulsive, fascinating and boring texture of your experience. Just like a speaker translates her experience into a code of words, we translate these electrical and chemical patterns, or codes, into our experience. Sense organs, translate light waves, sound waves, tastes and touches, into a pattern of electrical impulses in your brain. The organ that translates those impulses into experience is not a physical organ, at all. We call that organ 'you'.
Now I know that some of these ideas fly in the face of the materialist assumptions that we have all been indoctrinated in. Before I drop the final spiritual bomb, indulge me for a moment, and let me do something that will soften the blow. Close your eyes and watch your breath. Watch it from a place inside your nose, feeling the coolness of the inhalation and the warmth of the exhalation. Good. Now bring your awareness to your right foot. Just feel your foot. Okay, now tighten all the muscles of your right foot and then release and watch the foot relax. Okay, now do the same thing with your left hand. Tighten all the muscles, then release and watch your hand relax. So, that's it. Thank you for indulging me.
Now I have a question. When you were moving from inside your nose to your foot and then to your hand, what part of you was moving? Now I know we can have a long discussion about whether you were really moving to those different parts of your body or you were moving around the surface of your brain where you experience those different parts. But irrespective of whether you were traveling through your whole body, or just your brain, what part of you was traveling? Certainly it wasn't the brain. The brain was not traveling to different parts of the brain. When scientists study brain scans and they see different parts light up, it is not the brain that is moving to those different parts. The brain is stationary. You are moving to those parts, and that you that is moving is not a part of you, that IS you.
So, now, here is the spiritual bomb. The you that wants to survive, the you that wants anything, the you that is the seat of all your desires, the you that is not your thoughts, but the thinker of your thoughts, not your sights, but the seer of your sights, not your memories but the rememberer of your memories, that you is consciousness, and consciousness is not part of the physical universe.
Are you still there, or have you run off shrieking into the night? Atoms have no desires. Molecules have no desires. Things have no desires. But you are not a thing. You are not made of atoms or molecules. You are not even made of neutrinos or subatomic particles. You are context, not content. Whatever you say you are, you are not that. You are that which experiences that. Every thing changes, but you are not a thing. You are that which experiences things, which experiences change. And, as such, you are part of the immutable spiritual fabric of the entire universe.
And you don't know that. I know you don't know that because that is how this whole system is set up. Survival of the fittest depends on a delusion. It depends on us not knowing that. Oh, I know it when I think about it, but I don't experience my life that way. I, like you, am attached to my body, to my memories, to my relationships, to my experiences, and I don't want this whole system, this whole package that I call my life, to end. So I cling to this life and I protect myself from anything that threatens this life and I embrace anything that enhances this life. And so, I, just like everyone else, and every other being, struggle to survive, struggle to keep this particular mind/body experience going for as long as I can.
Now let's get back to Western materialist science and theories of evolution. Is survival of the fittest the mechanism that drives actual evolution, the reason we human beings are here on this planet today? Of course not. The fittest life form is unquestionably the microbe. There are quintillions of them for each human being on this planet. There are even extremophile microbes that can endure and even thrive in temperatures above the boiling point of water and below freezing. You would think that it would have taken "evolution" millions of years to develop such an amazing adaptation, but you would be wrong. Extremophile microbes are considered to be the oldest species on this planet and date back to the very time, four billion years ago, that conditions on this planet had stabilized enough to support any life at all. The greatest survival machines were also the first survival machines. If survival were the only purpose of evolution it would have been over as soon as it began.
Survival of the fittest is based on a delusion. The delusion is that we, that is all life forms, are not life, but the forms that life takes. It is our attachment to this form, to this body, and to the particular way of experiencing the world that we have through this body and the particular relationships that we have made while we have had this experience, that makes us cling to this particular form of life, and that makes us struggle and compete to survive. But if you espouse 'survival of the fittest' as such a key ingredient in our evolution, then at least think about it deeply, and realize that it makes absolutely no sense unless there is a spiritual being, a consciousness, at the center of every life form that enlivens it with the will and energy and intelligence to survive. To imply that this 'survival of the fittest' idea has somehow supplanted God, or eliminated the need for a non-material explanation of existence, is just silliness and it should be treated as such, no matter how many degrees the person has who is espousing such nonsense. He is basing his thinking on his observations of biological processes. Our thinking is based on an understanding of the being without whom these biological processes make no sense what so ever.
Your comments are most welcome.